Public vote says West End in need of Lee Mead
25-year-old understudy from Essex wins role of lifetime in Any Dream Will Do live grand final
Tonight's grand final of Any Dream Will Do live on BBC One saw understudy Lee Mead triumph in the public vote and win the right to wear the coveted Technicolor Dreamcoat in a new West End production of Joseph.
Immediately after landing one of the best loved roles in musical theatre, Lee Mead said:
"I'm shocked, I was obviously hoping that I'd do well, but it hasn't sunk in at all. I feel incredible - it's the best feeling in the world."
Legendary composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had absolutely no say in the choosing of his new leading man as viewers voted to select their Joseph, was thrilled with the public's choice, saying:
"I'm absolutely delighted. Lee may have been an understudy, but he's never sung in front of me, or sung in front of milions of people before. He did a fantastic job."
Host Graham Norton said:
"Lee is a consummate professional, he commands the stage. As an audience member, you are so relaxed with him in charge. You have total confidence that he is able to do the job. He can do it all."
Doctor Who star and West End leading man John Barrowman commented:
"Lee won because he is polished, professional and close to perfection in what he does. He goes on stage and commands it, and one of the best qualities about him is that he doesn't analyse the song too much. He just gets out there and does it. I'm happy to give over my West End leading man's shoes for a while, to allow him to fill them."
West End leading lady Denise Van Outen said:
"Lee from the very beginning right through to the very end has been the most consistent out of all the contestants. He has the ability to make even really popular songs his own and he has his own unique style of performing. The next time he lands a role as a leading man, can he put me forward to be the leading lady?"
Theatre impressario and Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright commented:
"Lee won because he totally, but totally, deserves to step out of the shadows of the chorus and become a leading man. Time and time again he took standards by such luminaries as Presley, Darin and Jagger and made me forget the originals. There's no greater tribute I can pay to any artist than that. This is it Lee, this is what you've wanted, this is what you've waited for and this is what, more than anything, you have deserved it, since you first saw Joseph in Southend as a kid. Enjoy every second of it."
Vocal coach Zoe Tyler, who has worked constantly with the boys throughout the run of the show, said:
"As soon as Lee sets foot on the stage he lights the whole stage up, he knows how to perform and he knows how to bring the audience in 100 per cent. His vocals are in a class of their own. His strengths are his incredible ability to give a leading man performance and that his vocals and range are phenomenal. I'd advise him to pace himself, enjoy every single moment and that he now has to believe he is a star."
Over the course of a tense and dramatic evening, Lee Mead performed alongside fellow finalists - 19-year-old supermarket assistant Keith Jack from Dalkeith, Midlothian and 18-year-old drama student Lewis Bradley from Middlesbrough, who all set out to prove to the public that they had the power, range and charisma to become a West End leading man.
The group song, performed by the three finalists, was Maria from West Side Story.
After performing their songs and receiving the usual round of feedback from Andrew Lloyd Webber and the expert panel of Denise Van Outen, John Barrowman, Bill Kenwright and Zoe Tyler, the Josephs faced the agony of not one, but two, public votes.
At the end of the first live show, Lewis Bradley was voted out by the public, placing him in third place.
Lewis Bradley said after his eviction:
"I really did think it was anybody's game at this stage but I'm glad that Lee won as I do think he's better suited to Joseph. I know I've been knocked out and I'm not going to be Joseph, but I've just got to turn it around and make it positive, which I'm quite good at now because I've had to do it a lot during the series! This whole experience has been priceless, I've met so many amazing people."
In the second live show of the evening, the two remaining finalists - Lee Mead and Keith Jack - performed their favourite songs of the series - Always On My Mind by Elvis Presley for Keith Jack, and Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones for by Lee Mead.
After a stirring duet of Jesus Christ Superstar, Graham Norton broke the news that Lee Mead was Joseph, leaving Keith Jack in second place.
Keith Jack said after the show:
"Obviously I'm gutted to come so close, but hopefully this won't be the last that people will see of me. I think Lee is a fantastic performer and I am genuinely happy for him. I'm going to go back to Scotland for a bit of cold air and a rest, and then hopefully something good will come of this. I still want to be a leading man in the West End, and I'm just so thankful to everyone who has helped me to achieve my potential."
A total of three million votes were cast tonight by viewers.
There was also a Joseph reunion tonight as the evicted Josephs performed The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy and the public's Maria, Connie Fisher performed The Sound Of Music.
The Josephs were also joined on stage tonight by the winning choir from the Joseph Choir search competition, Brampton Primary School from East Ham.
The single featuring Lee's version of Any Dream Will Do is now available to pre-order at bbc.co.uk/pudsey.
The CD single will also feature the finalists' ensemble performance of Close Every Door and will be in the shops from Monday 18 June. Every copy sold will help BBC Children In Need.
Notes to Editors
Judges' feedback on tonight's performances
For Once In My Life by Stevie Wonder
Zoe Tyler: "Of course it's the voice of Joseph. The first time I heard you sing I thought you were really good, when I hear you sing now you knock me for six. It's Scotland's loss, but the West End's gain. I hope you packed your bags because you're here to stay."
Denise Van Outen: "You've got better and better each week. He's so fantastic every week - from superstore, to superstar."
Andrew Lloyd Webber: "You were really using your voice, and it was quite wonderful, while it was Lewis dancing and showing a different side. This is why it's a real tough call tonight because you absolutely could be Joseph, and so could Lewis. It's going to depend really now on what people feel they will want to get out of the show when they go and see it. You really can sing wonderfully and will have a career whatever happens tonight."
Moondance by Michael Buble
Andrew Lloyd Webber: "It's the voice; a fantastic voice. If I were at home, I will be thinking about the movement and the singing, and the fact you've got an incredible voice, not necessarily natural movement. You've got a fantastic talent. Either of which I will be happy, but I'm going to make a bad joke now. From checkout to Chekov. I'm not sure."
John Barrowman: "The great thing is that Joseph doesn't have to dance around the stage that much. He has to sing big ballads and you are the best big ballad singer. That was fantastic. Fantastic. Fantastic. You have grown with maturity throughout the competition. You're a year older than Lewis, but you've grown, you've matured. You're a leading man."
Denise Van Outen: "Ok. I'm going to do a John Barrowman. Hot. Hot. Hot. I loved it. You sing well and you moved great. We had an issue with your moment at the start of the show, and now you move with ease. You move like a panther, you kind of glide. You're fantastic. He's like a mini-you [referring to John Barrowman]."
Kiss by Tom Jones
Andrew Lloyd Webber: "Let's put it this way, the cry baby, fried us baby tonight. You were fantastic. Thank goodness you danced, it was wonderful to see you dance and show something we talked about at the beginning - you doing something from the film Billy Elliot, you did it tonight. Well done. You've made the best journey I've seen of anybody else on this programme."
John Barrowman: "You know I am your toughest critic. But I have to say: Showman! Showman! Showman! I wished you would have done a performance like that four or five weeks ago as you would have never have been in the bottom two. I'm just sorry that you saved it until the last show. It's for the audience to decide tonight if you are Joseph. But that was great."
Bill Kenwright: "The shackles are off. That boy has endured more than everyone else. He's had more criticism than everyone else, he's been in more sing-offs than everyone else. He's standing in front of us a star, in the final. More than everyone in this competition, you're a winner and you're a man."
Beyond The Sea by Bobby Darin
Andrew Lloyd Webber: "I think they'll get a Joseph who will be very interesting to watch during the previews because I reckon you'll learn so much during the previews and up to the opening night, that it will be an extraordinary journey. Not sure whether or not you're a year or two too young - I cannot say, but I really do think you've come through magnificently on that. You did a big band song made famous by Bobby Darin. La Mer originally. And you took it with a maturity that I would not have dreamt at the beginning of the programme."
ZoŽ Tyler: "Lewis has been on the biggest vocal journey. When I first met you, I was in awe of your voice. Then it sort of went [makes raspberry noise] for a couple of weeks with your nerves. You've picked yourself up. Picked your vocal chords off the floor, and last week frankly threw them in my face, because you were stunning. Quite frankly you're breaking my heart tonight really stunning."
Bill Kenwright: "The second he walked on with his Nan 20 years ago for the first audition, I wrote down, Joseph. I think you've got a great voice. I think the great thing about you, as Andrew said, is that you've matured, and matured and matured. You're still only 18. You still have a long way to go. Terrific."
You're The Devil In Disguise by Elvis Presley
Andrew Lloyd Webber: "[To Lee] What happened to that top note? He's terrific. A really great performance and I know how hard he's worked too."
John Barrowman: "I certainly would be confident [of Lee as a leading man]. Instead of the devil in disguise you are a lead in disguise. There was some tuning issues, but I'll leave that up to ZoŽ, but I forgive you. Like you can see from the audience here they love watching you. You're definitely the quintessential leading man."
ZoŽ Tyler: "You know what, the boys are absolutely on their last dregs of energy. They've worked like you can't believe this week you know. Lee, I have been tough on you over the past few weeks that's because I know what your capabilities are. You look like an angel, you sing like an angel. You're stunning."
Bill Kenwright: "The thing about this boy is the way he interprets the lyrics. He takes songs like he has done over the season - like Darin, Presley, Mick Jagger and he makes them his own."
New York, New York by Frank Sinatra
Andrew Lloyd Webber: "You're a fantastic performer. I always think when I hear New York, New York, 'why is it those songs never work with English place names?' You know something, if the song was called Torquay, Torquay - you would have made a great performance out of that. You're phenomenal. You're a great showman. You've got everything there."
ZoŽ Tyler: "That was an amazing performance Lee. You know I've been working for three months now with all your voices, quite frankly what am I going to do with all my days. That was an amazing song for you; there could not have been a finer song to show your fine, fine voice."
Bill Kenwright: "This is my moment of truth. I know what you've given up to take on this competition. I know what a gamble it is for you. You've worked for me. You've understudied for me. I should have seen back then what everybody has seen for the last eight weeks. You are not an understudy. You're a leading man. You're a star. It's taught me a lot this series. You're gonna wake up tomorrow morning a West End leading man."